Pope turns other cheek to Muslim Turkey

Pope turns other cheek to Muslim Turkey
Richard Owen, Ankara


THE Pope has reversed his opposition to Turkey’s efforts to join the EU, appearing to back the overwhelmingly Muslim country’s hard-fought push towards membership at the start of his visit.

Benedict XVI appealed for Christian-Muslim reconciliation and called on all religious leaders to “utterly refuse to support any form of violence in the name of faith”. His controversial and potentially hazardous visit – originally intended to improve relations between Catholics and Orthodox Christians – was “pastoral, not political”, he insisted late on Tuesday. But there were immediate tensions after the country’s top Muslim official accused him of stirring up Islamophobia.

The build-up to the Pope’s four-day visit has been marked by setbacks in Turkey’s bid for EU membership – which the Pope as a cardinal once called a “grave error” – and anger in the Muslim world over the Pope’s contentious remarks about Islam in a university address two months ago.

But Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan put resentments aside on Tuesday by agreeing to greet the Pope at Ankara airport and hold talks there.

Following the meeting, he was quick to claim the Pope had expressed hope that Turkey would join the EU.

A papal spokesman later clarified the remarks, saying the Pope had told the Turkish leader the Vatican did not have the power to intervene, but “viewed positively and encouraged” the process of Turkey’s entry into the EU “on the basis of common values and principles”.

In a break with protocol, Mr Erdogan greeted the Pope, 79, at the steps of his plane, a mark of respect from a leader who had initially said he was too busy to meet the pontiff.

The Pope in turn appeared to nod understandingly when Mr Erdogan explained he had to attend the NATO summit in Riga. Mr Erdogan said: “The most important message the Pope gave was toward Islam, reiterating his view of Islam as peaceful and affectionate.”

The Pope’s visit is sensitive – a closely watched pilgrimage full of symbolism that could offer hope of religious reconciliation or deepen what many say is the growing divide between the Christian and Islamic worlds.

He clearly made reconciliation a priority on his first day.

Among a series of taxing meetings was a dialogue with Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate and Turkey’s top Muslim official.

Dr Bardakoglu accused the Pope of encouraging Islamophobia with his remarks at Regensburg University two months ago, when the Pope quoted a medieval Christian emperor who had linked Islam to violence and inhumanity.

He lectured an uncomfortable-looking Pope, telling him: “When religious leaders come together, they should concentrate on solving the common problems of mankind without trying to demonstrate the superiority of their own beliefs.”

Islamophobia was regrettable and based on prejudice, rather than any “scientific or historical research or data”, he said.

“We are members of a religion which assumes that killing an innocent person is a heavy crime and a sin.”

Sitting on the stage next to Dr Bardakoglu, the Pope did not react to the statement. But he did retract comments he made in 2004, opposing Turkish membership of the EU, saying he now favoured the move.

The Pope praised “the flowering of Islamic civilisation” in Turkey and said Christians and Muslims both valued the sacred and “the dignity of the person”.

“This is the basis of our mutual respect and esteem,” he said. “We are called to work together via authentic dialogue.”

The Pope later told diplomats that leaders of all religions must “utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of faith”.

Those comments could be reinforced later this week when the Pope meets in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians

Al-Qaida denounces Pope’s visit to Turkey, calling it part of a “crusader campaign” against Islam

Al-Qaida denounces Pope’s visit to Turkey, calling it part of a “crusader campaign” against Islam

The disjunction between the idea that he is waging a “Crusader campaign” and what he is actually doing is of Grand Canyon proportions, but when has a disconnect from reality stopped them before? “Al-Qaida denounces pope visit to Turkey,” by Maamoun Youssef for Associated Press, with thanks to CGiddens, Jr.:

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida in Iraq on Wednesday denounced Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey, calling it part of a “crusader campaign” against Islam.In Istanbul, Vatican officials said the remark shows the need for faiths to fight “violence in the name of God.”

The trip is Benedict’s first visit to an Islamic country as pontiff, seeking dialogue with Muslims who were angered over a speech he made in September in which he cited a medieval text that linked Islam and violence.

Al-Qaida in Iraq issued its statement on an Islamic militant Web site it often uses to post messages.

“The pope’s visit, in fact, is to consolidate the crusader campaign against the lands of Islam after the failure of the crusader leaders … and an attempt to extinguish the burning ember of Islam inside our Turkish brothers,” it said.

Erdogan: Pope says Islam “peaceful and affectionate”

Erdogan: Pope says Islam “peaceful and affectionate”

Yes, well, what else could he say after all the affection and warmth the Muslims in Turkey have shown him?

“Pope defuses tensions on visit to Muslim Turkey,” by Philip Pullella and Selcuk Gokoluk for Reuters:

ANKARA (Reuters) – Pope Benedict told Turkey on Tuesday he backed its bid to join the European Union and believed Islam was a religion of peace, hoping to soothe rows overshadowing a delicate visit to the mainly Muslim country.Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hailed the comments, which he said Benedict made to him in their private talk at the airport, and Turkish commentators said they changed the tone of a visit clouded by disputes over the Pope’s view of Islam.

Asked about Turkey’s EU entry bid, which Benedict opposed before his 2005 election as Pope, spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Vatican took no political stand but supported Turkey’s entry “on the basis of common values and principles.”

And what are those common values and principles, exactly?

Security was heavy but protests rare under Ankara’s sunny skies as Benedict arrived, laid a wreath at the mausoleum of the republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and met Turkey’s president and director of religious affairs.Erdogan, who had originally said he was too busy to meet the Pope, greeted Benedict warmly as he descended from his airplane and held short talks with him before leaving for the NATO summit in Riga.

“He said we are not political but we wish for Turkey to join the EU,” Erdogan told journalists after meeting the Pope.

Erdogan, who began his career in Islamic politics, added: “The most important message the Pope gave was toward Islam, he reiterated his view of Islam as peaceful and affectionate.”

Yes. Cuddly, even. No Salman-Rushdieism here about Islam being the “least huggable of faiths.” The intellectual acrobatics required for this aren’t really all that difficult. Just decide a priori that all those committing violence in the name of Islam aren’t really Muslims. Then all that are left are the poor victims of “Islamophobia.”

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Pope sells out Europe, says Erdogan

According to Erdogan, Benedict now endorses the “grave error.” But it is still a grave error, regardless. “Pope Benedict Backs Turkey’s European Union Bid, Erdogan Says,” by Flavia Krause-Jackson and Mark Bentley for Bloomberg, with thanks to Andrew Bostom:

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) — Pope Benedict XVI said he backs Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting the pontiff upon his arrival in Ankara for his first visit to a Muslim country.The Pope told Erdogan that while the Vatican seeks to stay out of politics it “desires Turkey’s membership in the EU,” Erdogan said at a news conference after the 15 minute meeting that initiated his four-day visit to Turkey. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he had said in 2004 that allowing Islamic Turkey to join the EU would be a “grave error.” The Vatican has yet to confirm Benedict’s comments today.

Pope Rage in Turkey

Pope Rage in Turkey


Recurring themes: displacement of responsibility (“CRUSADES: What a very peaceful walk!”), assertions of Islamic theological supremacism (“Jesus is not Son of God. He is a prophet of Islam” and “We as Muslims…accepted Jesus as our prophet”), along with a nice nod to Edvard Munch.

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Thousands denounce papal visit to Turkey

Tiny Minority of Extremists Update from modern, secular Turkey. From AAP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:

Tens of thousands of protesters denounced Pope Benedict XVI as an enemy of Islam at a rally that highlighted the deep strains in Turkey before hosting the pontiff this week.Chants of “No to the Pope!” rose among the nearly 25,000 demonstrators at every mention of the pope’s remarks on violence and the Prophet Muhammad. Many protesters wore headbands with anti-pope slogans and waved placards that included a depiction of Benedict as the grim reaper.

The protest, organised by an Islamist political party, was the largest mass gathering so far against Benedict’s four-day visit scheduled to begin Tuesday – his first papal journey to a mostly Muslim nation. The outcry also was designed to rattle Turkey’s establishment.

Turkish officials hope to use the visit to promote their ambitions of becoming the first Muslim nation in the European Union and showcase their secular political system. But pro-Islamic groups – which have been gaining strength for years – perceive Benedict as a symbol of Western intolerance and injustices against Muslims.

“The Pope is not wanted here,” said Kubra Yigitoglu, 20, who attended the rally in a headscarf, ankle-length coat and cowboy boots.

Nearby, a large banner was raised amid a sea of red flags of the Saadet, or Felicity, party. It called the Vatican “a source of terror”.

Sure. That’s why those 19 Catholic priests flew those planes into the World Trade Center towers.

Truth vs Moral Relativism

Truth vs Moral Relativism

The liberal media denounce Pope Benedict’s adherence to Biblical and historical truth as rigidity.  They want pragmatism and flexibility, which amounts to moral relativism.

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Pope Benedict and Christianity stand accused of “divisiveness.”

Liberals, along with Muslims, denounced the Pope last September when he spoke at the University of Regensburg.  The New York Times demanded an apology for his lack of sensitivity.

What exactly had he done?

As reported in a VOA News article by Sabina Castelfranco, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Islam and violence. At a morning mass, he rejected the use of God’s name to justify hatred and fanaticism. In a theological address to academics at Regensburg University, the pope spoke of the relationship between faith and reason and Islam’s holy war, Jihad. Historically, he said, spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable and therefore, ungodly.

This so distressed Muslims that they were driven to murder Catholic nuns and priests and to destroy Christian churches to prove that Islam is not a religion of violence.

Now, with the Pope’s forthcoming journey to Turkey for discussions with Islamic mullahs, the media have another opportunity to chastise Christians.  The Wall Street Journal, in its edition of November 25, 2006, spotlights the Pope’s forthrightness in a front-page, feature article by Gabriel Kahn and Stacy Meichtry. 

The Journal article’s headline is A Tumultuous World Tests a Rigid Pope: Inside the Vatican, Benedict’s intellect and style intimidate. How will they play outside the Church?  Confronting Muslim anger. If you are an online Journal subscriber, read the article here.

The reporters observe disapprovingly, Nineteen months after being selected pope, Benedict is transforming the Vatican with a different style and a different stance. Beneath his blunt words and rigid style lies a profound divergence from John Paul’s buoyant optimism. Pope Benedict believes that the Roman Catholic Church must stand apart from the world of today rather than embrace it.  ….. For Benedict, the modern age is defined by growing secularism in the West and the rise of religious fanaticism most everywhere else. In order to fulfill its mission, he believes, the Church needs to shun both forces. Benedict is “pessimistic about the compatibility of the Church and the modern world,” says Mr. Spaemann.

…. Benedict’s emphasis on tradition risks alienating a broad cross-section of Catholics who argue the Church needs to become more accessible to maintain its increasingly diverse flock.

Many people mistakenly assume that, because the Journal’s editorial staff is conservative, the Journal’s news staff are similarly aligned.  This front page article is a good example, both of the Journal’s liberal slant on news coverage, and of present-day moral relativism in action.

Implicit in the article is the viewpoint that there is no such thing as truth, no such thing as right or wrong.  The writers have absorbed the relativistic view inculcated in today’s colleges and universities that flexibility and pragmatism, other names for moral relativism, ought to be the sole criteria for belief and action.  Adherence to the truth is characterized as impractical rigidity.

Flexibility and pragmatism were the watchwords of John Dewey, the 20th century’s most influential liberal-socialist-progressive.  The doctrine of Pragmatism which he popularized was that Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis had proved everything to be continually changing and evolving.  Thus there can be no such thing as permanent moral truth from God, rooted in human nature, because there is no such thing as fixed human nature.  Pragmatism, instead, teaches that there are only actions that get you what you want, or fail to do so, in changing circumstances; the end justifies the means.

In the vein of Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism, the Journal reporters simply assume that the goal of Christian churches ought to be maximizing their membership by reaching a doctrinal compromise that would alienate the fewest people.  It seems not to have occurred to them that a Christian church has no purpose other than preaching the New Testament Gospel as written.  Without that, there is no Christian church.

Flexibility and pragmatism are the hallmarks of a society that no longer believes in itself, because it has lost touch with the traditions that brought the society into being and enabled it to survive against outside aggressors.  They are the hallmarks of societies in political decline.

Flexibility and pragmatism, as Professor James Q. Wilson wrote in astonishment, led his students to reject the judgment that Hitler’s National Socialism and his Holocaust were evil, because those students had been taught that right and wrong are unscientific value judgments.

If Pope Benedict’s allegiance to Biblical Truth alienates a broad cross-section of the Church’s diverse flock, the logical conclusion is both that the alienated portion of the flock is not truly Christian, and that some Catholic priests have drifted into heretical doctrine and taught falsehood to their parishioners.  Unfortunately, the same is true of the Protestant denominations, as well.

Compromises on Jesus’s teachings, Sunday morning entertainment, and feel-good messages are not Christianity.  Preaching the Bible’s truth is the only way to bring individuals into a fruitful relationship with God and the only way to maintain the integrity of Christianity. 

To do otherwise would be the equivalent of instructing Marine Corps volunteers in boot camp that Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Corps, but it isn’t necessary always to be faithful to your buddies in combat and to fight for each other if you have a different opinion or just don’t feel comfortable with the history and traditions of the Corps.

Who will kill the pope in Istanbul?”

Who will kill the pope in Istanbul?”Why, conservative Roman Catholics, Freemasons and U.S. intelligence services, of course. Who else? “Turkey prepares clampdown ahead of pope,” by Selcan Hacaoglu for Associated Press, with thanks to Doc Washburn:

ISTANBUL, Turkey – If Turkish security authorities needed a reminder of the challenge posed by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey this week, Ibrahim Ak delivered it when he fired a pistol outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul and shouted that he wanted to strangle the pope with his bare hands.”God willing, this will be a spark, a starter for Muslims … God willing, he will not come. If he comes, he will see what will happen to him,” the 26-year-old Turk told the TV cameras as he was led away in handcuffs.

The Nov. 2 incident ended without injuries, and nothing like it has happened since, but authorities are braced for trouble and have mobilized an army of snipers, bomb disposal experts and riot police, as well as navy commandos to patrol the Bosporus Straits flowing through Istanbul.

Benedict’s four-day visit to this overwhelmingly Muslim nation begins Tuesday under the shadow of his September speech in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”

Like the rest of the Islamic world, many in this 99 percent Muslim nation are angry and want a fuller apology than Benedict’s statement of regret for having caused offense.

Predicting big street protests, authorities plan to close several areas of Istanbul to traffic and are preparing lists of residents living in those neighborhoods.

Felicity, a pro-Islamic opposition party, is calling for a massive protest in Istanbul Sunday, before the pope arrives.

“If this trip would have occurred under normal conditions, then these lands, the center of tolerance and love, would show the necessary hospitality to him,” it said in a statement. “But we don’t want to see him on our soil because of the remarks he made about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad on Sept. 12 and for not apologizing afterward.”

“The center of tolerance and love.” Yeah, I’m feeling it now.

Benedict will visit Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, the capital. Istanbul, when it was named Constantinople, was the capital of Byzantine-era Christianity, but Christians are a tiny minority in modern Turkey, feel deprived of their rights and are expected to urge the pope to come to their defense….

They “feel” deprived of their rights. See, it’s just a bad feeling on their part. Nothing to be concerned about, right, AP?

A recent Turkish thriller, “Plot Against the Pope” by Yucel Kaya carries the subtitle “Who will kill the pope in Istanbul?” Its conspiracy theory ties the assassination into a plot by conservative Roman Catholics, Freemasons and U.S. intelligence services to attack Iran, Turkey’s eastern neighbor.

How Will Rome Face Mecca?

How Will Rome Face Mecca?
By Joseph D’Hippolito
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 6, 2006

One of the Catholic Church’s most controversial figures inflamed public debate in
Italy with a typically off-handed comment — and inadvertently exposed the
Vatican’s problems in crafting a coherent, comprehensive response to Islamic imperialism.

Cardinal Renato Martino — the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the
Vatican’s former ambassador to the United Nations — said that the Italian government should allow the Koran to be taught during the hour mandated for Catholic religious instruction.


“If there are 100 Muslim children in a school, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be taught their religion,” Martino said in a press conference March 9. “If we said ‘no’ until we saw equivalent treatment for the Christian minorities in Muslim countries, I would say that we were placing ourselves on their level.”


Martino’s comments came as campaigning in
Italy’s April 9 general election entered its final push. Two significant issues are the effect of massive Muslim immigration on Italian society and the ensuing place for government-sponsored Catholic religious education, mandated by the 1929 concordat between the
Vatican and
Italy that was renewed in 1984.


Two days before Martino’s press conference, the president of
Italy’s largest Muslim group — the Community of Islamic Organizations in
Italy, which controls that country’s mosques and has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood — asked the government to substitute Muslim instruction for Catholic instruction where appropriate.


That president, Mohammed Nour Dachan, also refused to sign a document in which Muslims pledged to accept
Italy’s constitution, denounce terrorism and recognize
Israel’s right to exist. His organization demands Islamic schools, Islamic banks and clerical supervision of textbooks.


“The impression was the Cardinal Martino, in the name of ‘dialogue,’ was uncritically accepting Nour Dachan’s request for a separate place for Islam in
Italy,” wrote Sandro Magister, who has covered the
Vatican for more than 25 years for the
Milan magazine, L’Espresso.


Enhancing the controversy are remarks Pope Benedict XVI made while greeting
Morocco’s new ambassador to the
Vatican on Feb. 20. During the audience, the pope advocated religious freedom “in a reciprocal manner in all societies,” a reference to oppressed Christian minorities in Muslim nations.


“But for Cardinal Martino,” Magister wrote, “this reciprocity would seem to be irrelevant.”

Reaction was swift and fierce. Wrote Ernesto Galli della Loggia in a front-page editorial for the
Milan daily Corriere della Sera on March 10:


“The words of Cardinal Martino on a host of highly important questions constitute a position clearly antithetical to the one repeatedly and vigorously marked out by Benedict XVI. One could even say that these words form a sort of embroidered design of a real and proper anti-Ratzingerian manifesto.”


Another front-page editorial in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, stated March 11 that Martino’s proposal contradicted
Italy’s constitution and Catholicism’s place in Italian culture.


Martino was so embarrassed that he had to appear on Vatican Radio on March 10 to control the damage. On March 13, the
Paris daily Le Figaro quoted Martino as saying that his off-hand proposal was a “sign of respect” toward Islam that would encourage Muslim nations to relieve persecution of Christian minorities.


Nevertheless, the Italian bishops’ conference continued its campaign. On March 16, Avvenire published an overview of European religious education by Carlo Cardia, a non-Catholic professor of ecclesiastical law and a consultant for a major left-wing party. Cardia concluded thus:


“There does not exist in
Italy an organized Islamic confession that is recognized by the state. There are various groups, which are not infrequently in conflict among themselves. And this prevents the implementation of teaching that would not be based on any community, institution, or confessional hierarchy.


“And then, one cannot ignore the potential conflict between some of the features of Islamism in its present state and fundamental questions for our society – the matter of human rights, beginning with religious freedom, the principles of equality between men and women, the monogamous structure of matrimony – which constitute the most valuable heritage of the secular-Christian tradition of Italy and the West.

“At a moment when Islamic fundamentalism constitutes a concrete reality in many countries from which immigration comes into Europe, it would be a mistake not to take note of the risk that a hasty legitimization in the sensitive channels of the schools could let in subjects capable of transmitting other messages, creating ambiguous connections, and placing at risk values that are fundamental for civil life.


“These are some of the obstacles that make an organic presence of Islam in the Italian schools unfeasible and not worthy of entertaining.”


On March 20 Cardinal Camilio Ruini, papal vicar for the Archdiocese of Rome, addressed the conference’s spring session:


“In particular, (it is necessary) that there not be any conflict in the content with respect to our constitution, for example with regard to civil rights, from religious freedom to the equality between man and woman to marriage. Concretely, until now there has been no representative body for Islam that would be capable of establishing such an accord with the Italian state. Furthermore, we must assure ourselves that the teaching of the Islamic religion would not give rise to socially dangerous indoctrination.”


Martino, whom Magister described as “a cardinal out of control,” has a well-deserved reputation as a self-promoting loose cannon. One month before the invasion of 
Iraq, Martino blamed the West for the Muslim world’s plight:


“Not only the United States but the entire West should make an examination of conscience of how we oppress the rest of the world — unkept promises, spreading ways of life that are not moral or acceptable to the rest of the world (Reuters, Feb. 6, 2003).”


When American forces captured Saddam Hussein, Martino offered these thoughts:


“I feel pity to see this man destroyed, being treated like a cow as they checked his teeth (Dec. 16, 2003).”


Six days before commenting on Muslim education, Martino talked about his recent trip to
Cuba, where he met Fidel Castro:


“Castro knows the social doctrine of the church. The times when the church was persecuted in
Cuba are water under the bridge (ANSA news agency, March 3).”


But Martino’s most recent comments also reflect the weight of outmoded policies and attitudes that Catholic leaders must shed as Benedict forges his own policy regarding Islam.


Pope John Paul II viewed Islam as a useful ally against Communism and secularism. Front Page Magazine’s “The
Vatican’s Pro-Saddam Tilt?” also chronicled how the late pope sought to engage Islam to promote world peace through ecumenism, even at the expense of Christian minorities in Muslim nations. But Benedict XVI subtly announced a radical change from the outset.


At his installation Mass, the new pope welcomed fellow Catholics, other Christians and Jews in his greeting, but not Muslims. Later, two selected speakers delivered intercessory prayers for oppressed Christians. One prayer was in Arabic.


However, Benedict and his bishops must confront what French historian Alain Besancon called the “indulgent ecumenicism” that dominates the Christian response to Islam, whether through Martino’s superficial multiculturalism or through the wistful yearning for traditionalist transcendence that 
Besancon described in Commentary magazine:


“Contributing to the partiality toward Islam is an underlying dissatisfaction with modernity, and with our liberal, capitalist individualistic arrangements…. Alarmed by the ebbing of religious faith in the Christian West, and particularly in
Europe, these writers cannot but admire Muslim devoutness…. Surely, they reason, it is better to believe in something than in nothing, and since these Muslims believe in something, they must believe in the same thing we do.”


Influencing that attitude was the work of European scholar Louis Massignon, who popularized the ideas of the Koran as a kind of biblical revelation and of Muslims as being among Abraham’s spiritual children.


“An entire literature favorable to Islam has grown up in
Besancon wrote, “much of it the work of Catholic priests under the sway of Massignon’s ideas.”


Europe is not the only place where such indulgent ecumenism holds sway. Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former Archbishop of Boston, created controversy in November 2002 when he bowed toward
Mecca and prayed to Allah in a suburban mosque during a Ramadan service. Afterward, he told the congregants:


“I feel very much at home with my fellow fundamentalists here, who are convinced that God must be at the center of our lives (Boston Globe, Nov. 25, 2002).”


Such sentimentality, however, ignores the irreconcilable differences between Christianity, Judaism and Islam that
Besancon described in his Commentary article, “What Kind Of Religion is Islam?” 


Though all three faiths are monotheistic, Islam rejects the doctrines of atonement and redemption that define Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, no concept of a covenant between God and humanity exists in Islam. Instead, Allah decrees his law “by means of a unilateral pact, in an act of sublime condescension (that) precludes any notion of imitating God as is urged in the Bible,”
Besancon wrote.


Islam also rejects the Christian doctrines of original sin and the necessity of mediation between God and humanity. In the Koran, Jesus “appears… out of place and out of time, without reference to the landscape of
Besancon wrote.


Most importantly, Judeo-Christian and Muslim concepts of divinity revolve around one irreconcilable difference:


“Although Muslims like to enumerate the 99 names of God, missing from the list, but central to the Jewish and even more so to the Christian conception of God, is ‘Father’ – i.e., a personal god capable of a reciprocal and loving relation with men,”
Besancon wrote. “The one God of the Koran, the God Who demands submission is a distant God; to call him ‘Father’ would be an anthropomorphic sacrilege.”


Sentimental ecumenism and John Paul II’s geopolitical agenda also prevented the Catholic Church from effectively confronting barbarism in Allah’s name. Oriana Fallaci excoriated the church in a 2002 editorial in Corriere della Sera. Some excerpts: 


“I find it shameful that the Catholic Church should permit a bishop (Hilarion Capucci), one with lodgings in the Vatican no less, a saintly man who was found in Jerusalem with an arsenal of arms and explosives hidden in the secret compartments of his sacred Mercedes, to…plant himself in front of a microphone to thank in the name of God the suicide bombers who massacre the Jews in pizzerias and supermarkets. To call them ‘martyrs who go to their deaths as to a party.’


“I find it shameful that L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Pope–a Pope who not long ago left in the Wailing Wall a letter of apology for the Jews–accuses of extermination a people who were exterminated in the millions by Christians. By Europeans. I find it shameful that this newspaper denies to the survivors of that people (survivors who still have numbers tattooed on their arms) the right to react, to defend themselves, to not be exterminated again [parentheses in original].


“I find it shameful that in the name of Jesus Christ (a Jew without whom they would all be unemployed), the priests of our parishes or Social Centers or whatever they are flirt with the assassins of those in Jerusalem who cannot go to eat a pizza or buy some eggs without being blown up [parentheses in original].

“I find it shameful that they are on the side of the very ones who inaugurated terrorism, killing us on airplanes, in airports, at the Olympics, and who today entertain themselves by killing western journalists. By shooting them, abducting them, cutting their throats, decapitating them. 

In her most recently translated work, The Force of Reason, Fallaci blamed the Catholic Church’s lax policies on immigration and ecumenism for the disintegration of
Europe’s identity:


“This Catholic Church…gets on so well with Islam because not few of its priests and prelates are the first collaborators of Islam. The first traitors. This Catholic Church, without whose imprimatur the Euro-Arab dialogue could neither have begun nor gone ahead for 30 years. This Catholic Church without which the Islamization of Europe, the degeneration of
Europe in Eurabia, could never have developed. This Catholic Church…remains silent even when the crucifix gets insulted derided, expelled from the hospitals. This Catholic Church…never roars against (Muslims’) polygamy and wife-repudiation and slavery….”


Even Benedict’s call for reciprocity fails to address adequately the totalitarian nature of Islamic societies, as the ordeal of Afghan convert Abdul Rahman and
Algeria’s parliament illustrate.


On March 21,
Algeria passed a law forbidding members of religions other than Islam to seek converts or to worship in public without a license. Violators would face imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to 10,000 Euros.


If Benedict wishes to develop an effective response to Islam, he must do more than demand reciprocity. He must forthrightly challenge the entrenched attitudes Catholic leaders have regarding Islam. He should start by publicly disciplining an obnoxious cardinal who can never resist a camera, a microphone or a notepad.

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Pressure on Pope to rebuild ties with Islam

Pressure on Pope to rebuild ties with Islam

From correspondents in IstanbulNovember 05, 2006 11:29pmArticle from: Reuters 

PRESSURE is growing on Pope Benedict XVI to use a trip to Turkey this month to rebuild badly strained ties between the Vatican and the Muslim world. Two new developments last week – a shooting incident at the Italian consulate in Istanbul and news that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would not meet him during his visit – have given an added edge to the visit from November 28 to December 1.The Muslim world was enraged in September when the Pope gave a lecture at a German university in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor in a passage which denounces Islam as violent.His repeated expressions of regret have failed to quell the anger in the Middle East which has also been keenly felt in politically secular but mostly Muslim Turkey.“The majority of Turkish society was very angry with his Regensburg (University) speech, but many of them will see this visit as a chance for the Pope to explain his own thoughts on Islam,” said Cemal Usak, a Muslim activist in Turkey who has long been involved in inter-religious debate.“I believe he can compensate for his faults on Islam during his visit.”On Thursday, a young Muslim Turk fired a gun in front of the Italian consulate in Istanbul to protest against the Pope’s visit and called on him to stay away.The Vatican played down the protest and the fact that Erdogan would be too busy to meet the Pontiff.“We think it (the Pope’s visit) is a good chance to develop good relations,” said Sheik Muhammad Dormuhammad, secretary general of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, who was in Istanbul to attend a religious conference.The crisis – like controversies over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad or the death sentence for an Afghan convert to Christianity – reveals a deeper gulf between two world views that only sustained dialogue can overcome.Some even accuse Pope Benedict of undoing years of bridge-building by his predecessor.Father Francois Yakan in Istanbul, the former Byzantine Christian capital conquered by the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1453, said the visit would open up much-needed dialogue.“The Pope’s visit will calm things a bit and improve relations between Europe and Islam,” said the patriarchal vicar of the Chaldean Catholic Church.“Don’t expect miracles here.”It will be Pope Benedict’s first visit to a Muslim country since becoming Pontiff in April 2005.“Maybe he will learn something about Islam, because the things he has said in the past are not good about Islam,”said Mohammad El Amin Nibaruta, secretary general of the Council of Religious Organisations of Burundi.“We think he doesn’t have enough information about the religion,” he said at the religious conference.peTwo weeks ago, 38 Muslim scholars sent Benedict an open letter pointing out what they said were wrong or tendentious statements about Islam made in the Regensburg speech.Turkish nationalists and Islamist activists – both suspecting the Pope’s visit was aimed at boosting non-Muslim faiths – have called for his trip to be cancelled.Even before the Pope’s latest remarks on Islam, Turks were distrustful of Benedict, who before becoming Pope said Turkey as a non-Christian country would not fit into the European Union.“The Pope will be coming at a time when relations with the West are deteriorating and Turks feel the EU doesn’t want them,” said Hasan Unal, a nationalist-minded academic at Ankara’s Bilken University.The nationalist mood has strengthened following a barrage of criticism from EU leaders of Turkey’s failure to recognise Cyprus, improve human rights and bring the revered military firmly under civilian control.The Pope’s visit will also put a spotlight on religious freedom in Turkey.His main purpose in visiting the country which spans Europe and Asia, is to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual head of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.


Shots fired in Turkey pope protest

Shots fired in Turkey pope protest

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) — Police say they have arrested a man who allegedly fired a pistol into the air outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul, then shouted slogans in protest of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit.

The man, who was identified by police sources as Ibrahim Ak, according to CNN Turk, threw the gun on the grounds of the consulate shortly before his arrest on Thursday.

“I don’t want him here, if he was here now I would strangle him with my bare hands,” the suspect, who identified himself as Ibrahim Ak, 26, told a Dogan news agency television camera as he was detained by police, according to The Associated Press.

“I fired the shots for God,” Ak said as he sat handcuffed inside a police van outside the consulate. “Inshallah (God willing), this will be a spark, a starter for Muslims.”

“God willing, he will not come, if he comes, he will see what will happen to him Inshallah,” Ak said.

No one was injured in the incident, which comes a day after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan announced he would not meet the pontiff during his November 28-30 visit.

“I believe (the shooting) is a very isolated and marginal act,” chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, told CNN. He said he did not believe it would jeopardize the planning of the pope’s trip, which was being carried out calmly.

Erdogan will be at a NATO summit during the pope’s visit, but some see the move as a snub.

The pope’s trip follows a controversial speech in Germany in which he quoted a 14th-century emperor who said the Muslim Prophet Mohammed’s teachings are “evil and inhuman.”

That speech in mid-September prompted widespread criticism from Muslims. The pope has made a series of increasingly apologetic statements since then.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.


Turkish hijacking not Pope Rage

Turkish hijacking not Pope Rage

“I am a Christian and don’t want to serve a Muslim army,” one of the Turkish hijackers wrote to Pope Benedict. Now it appears they are seeking asylum. This is, of course, completely contrary to previous reports from AP and others that the hijacking was fueled by Pope Rage. “Passengers safe as hijacking ends,” from CNN:

BRINDISI, Italy (CNN) — A hijacking episode that began over Greek airspace has ended in Italy with all 113 people aboard released and both unarmed Turkish hijackers in the custody of Italian aviation authorities, Italian officials said.Earlier reports on Tuesday that the hijackers were protesting Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to Turkey were apparently incorrect; authorities now say that the hijackers have requested political asylum.

Turkish officials said one of the hijackers, identified as Hasan Ekinci, wrote a letter to the pope in August asking for help in avoiding service in the Turkish army.

“I am a Christian and don’t want to serve a Muslim army,” he wrote, adding that he had been attending church since 1998….

Albanian member of parliament Sabri Abazi, spoke to ANSA news agency by telephone from the hijacked airline. “They haven’t heard us talking,” he said, according to Reuters.

Abazi said there was one hijacker in the cockpit and another in the cabin. “Up to now we have seen no weapons or use of violence